I have a very lovely treat for you today. I was lucky enough to ask the very lovely and über talented Sharon Sant some questions about her latest book Runners (I may of mentioned it! Haha).
1. First off where did you get the inspiration for Eligah’s story?
Strangely, I dreamt Elijah! I recall having a dream about a group of kids on a quest of some sort (as with all dreams it becomes a bit vague as soon as you wake). I remember waking up in the middle of the night and writing it all down – most of the main characters – Elijah, Xavier, Rosa, Sky and Jimmy popped out of my head practically fully formed. Rowan came shortly afterwards, followed by Francois and Sadie much later on during the actual first draft of the book. I knew they were on some kind of quest, but I didn’t know what it would be at first. As soon as the setting came to me, I realised that it wouldn’t be a quest as such, more a journey of survival, although I think the story is probably a bit of both now.
2. How did you go about doing research for the story, and was it a long process?
I did a lot of research for the setting of the novel. It takes place largely around Dorset and Hampshire. I was born in Bournemouth and while I am familiar with the area, I had to work out quite carefully how distances between locations would affect the story, for example, how long it would take someone to travel between one town to another on foot or on a bike. I had loads of maps printed off and sat measuring bits to work out the mileage. A few of the places I use are fictional, so I fit them in near to real towns. I also travelled to some locations too to get a feel for the layout. I find that, often, there is no real substitute for physically going there. As for the social features of the world, I did have some background historical knowledge of rationing and workhouses and such, which I fell back on to create that aspect of the novel.
3. My favourite character was Jimmy because of his easy going and open nature. Who is your favourite character and why?
You should never ask an author who their favourite character is – it’s like asking a mum to name her favourite child! If I’m honest, it has to be Elijah, though. He’s not really hero material when we first meet him, in fact, aspects of his personality are really not nice at all but, essentially, I think he’s just struggling to find his place in the world. He often doesn’t really know if he’s doing the right thing because he doesn’t even know what the right thing is, but somehow he gets through. For charm and comic relief, I think I love Jimmy and Francois. I love how Francois needles Xavier to the point of distraction and just thinks it’s hilarious. I love Rosa for her toughness and Sky for her gentleness and Rowan for his cuteness – oh hell, I told you I couldn’t choose!
4. Were there any characters you struggled with when writing?
I have to think very hard about bad characters as I have this fear of turning them into pantomime villains. I need to make sure that their motivations are believable and I try to create aspects of their personality that make you believe that they have cast iron motivations and are not just bad because I wrote them that way. I find that a challenge, so Braithwaite and Stein took a lot of thought.
5. When editing what did you edit out?
I had to do a massive rewrite of the climax because I decided that different characters had to be present for it to work best. That took a lot of doing, because then I had to rewrite scenes all over the book to get each character to where they would be if they were/weren’t present at the climax. Other than that, there was just general editing, though it was all a headache!
6. Your books are of the YA Genre, how important to you think it is to get the younger generation reading?
It’s obviously massively important to me that young people read, but not just to sell books. I wonder where the next generation of storytellers will come from if nobody reads. It’s not only about books, it’s about films, TV, games, about cultivating imagination, and visualising a world internally through a book is a brilliant way of doing that. I’m a strong believer that creativity breeds creativity. Besides which, how much fun is it to be lost in a book? Not reading is missing out on so much.
7. Are there authors/books that you take inspiration from when writing?
I think I’m probably influenced by a great many writers without even realising it. Every new author I find and fall in love with makes me think ‘I wish I could write like that’ and I spent a great many years believing that I couldn’t write well unless I could emulate them. It took a long time for me to realise that I have to go with my own voice and have faith in it. I still read other works and get the same feelings of inadequacy and awe, but I think I’m more comfortable with what I do now.
8. After all your hard work how does it feel to see your book out in the world?
There’s no feeling more amazing than seeing your book on Amazon or Waterstones! I haven’t actually held a physical copy in my hands yet, but I have been in short story collections that I have paperback copies of and that was exciting enough, so I might faint when it’s all mine. The biggest buzz comes from people discussing your characters like they matter, it makes me so proud I can only liken it to being a parent. Someone I know says that each new person who reads your story makes the characters breathe a little more. That’s a nice way to think about it, you feel like they’re finally coming to life as they go out into the world.
9. What can we expect next from you?
I have so many ideas whirling around my head constantly that I don’t have time to get them all down! I’m working on a set of Runners prequel stories which I hope will be available in the autumn. I also have a YA novella coming out in August called The Memory Game that needs final edits, an NA novel almost finished which will be submitted to agents, and I’m working on a standalone YA called Storm Child that I plan to self-publish. I think that’s probably enough to take me to the end of the year, then who knows?
Sharon Sant was born in Dorset but now lives in Stoke-on-Trent. Aged eight she wrote a poem about ET, which received the ultimate praise of being pinned onto the classroom wall, and from that moment on she knew she’d never stop writing. She graduated from Staffordshire University in 2009 with a degree in English and creative writing. She currently works part time as a freelance editor and continues to write her own stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes across many genres, when not busy trying in vain to be a domestic goddess, she can often be found lurking in local coffee shops with her head in a book. Sometimes she pretends to be clever but really loves nothing more than watching geeky TV and eating Pringles.
Young adult novels Sky Song, The Young Moon and Not of Our (the Sky Song trilogy) and Runners were all released in 2013 to glowing reviews. The Memory Game, a YA paranormal novella, is due for release August 2013. She is currently working on a series of Runners prequel stories, the first of which is scheduled for release late 2013.
My review of Runners is here;
And the link to buy Runners is here;
Thank you so much to Sharon for taking the time to answer my questions.